Having a multi-author blog has a huge number of advantages. For example, it means you can share the workload so that you’re not the only one churning out the content or coming up with ideas. It also means that you’ve got multiple people building bridges, marketing, getting the word out as well as UI and UX.
That said, it does come with a set of its own problems. One of the biggest ones is of course that your quality is only as good as the worst of your authors. The other is that the more people are involved the harder it becomes to manage the whole ordeal, with it – for example – becoming hard to know who is still supposed to do what on a new post.
Fortunately, the online world has been working hard on creating a whole host of different solutions for both those problems. By having the right tools in place you can check each other’s content, work towards deadlines together and generally make the whole process run more smoothly.
Sold yet? Let’s take a look at some of these tools I’m talking about.
User Role Editor is a very useful plugin that allows you to decide what roles people will take. Basically what this amounts to is what rights they have when they’re on the site. It is, in fact, a very good idea to limit people’s abilities – even your own – so that a mistake can’t do too much damage.
A good strategy is to create an admin account and then some contributor (or editor) accounts. Everybody normally uses the contributor and editor accounts. Only if something fundamental needs to be done do you log in as an administrator.
The great thing about dividing it up in this way is that you’ll be far more aware of the damage you can cause when you’re logged in as an admin and therefore extra careful.
Of course, one of the biggest problems with having multiple writers on the same website is that people will not feel they get credit for the posts they write. Enter, stage left, Author Image. This useful little widget allows you to put up people’s image on the sidebar so that everybody immediately knows what post was written by who.
If you’re having trouble getting things handed in on time, check out Edit Flow. This allows you to take care of the meta-process of getting posts up on the right day by giving you a calendar which specifies when things are meant to be published as well as what stage there in.
There are five basic stages, which are: “Assigned”, “Draft”, “Pending Review”, “Pitch” and “Waiting for feedback”. You can also add custom stages in case your workflow is different from how everybody else wants to do it (Everybody wants to be different nowadays!)
Sometimes we’re forgetful. That’s just the nature of the game. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to have a checklist that everybody needs to run through to make certain they’ve done everything. In that way, you can avoid those embarrassing mistakes where some post doesn’t have a featured image.
Pre-publish reminder helps you do exactly that. It offers you a list of things that people should run through, making certain that your blog looks like a well-oiled machine rather than the product of five blind men feeling their way around an elephant.
A wonderfully WordPress plugin that emails the admin when a new post is drafted. The email contains the post’s title, the author, and a link. Yup, that’s pretty much all it does. Still, that’s quite enough in my book, as it will speed up the working process by making certain that drafts are checked and approved in quick order (as when that doesn’t happen that can be immensely frustrating for a budding author).
If you’re of the mindset that sometimes simpler is simply better than be certain to get a draft notification.
Perhaps you’re one of those websites where multiple authors work on the same post. You know, perhaps you do science things, your posts require a lot of research, or perhaps you like lots of cook doing things with broth. I don’t really know. Whatever floats your boat, you know.
I think I’ve had too much coffee.
If it’s having multiple authors, then get co-author. It allows you to set multiple authors for a post, who can all contribute to it. This will allow other authors to catch those mistakes and thereby make certain that you can avoid the common mistakes in your blogging, like not editing a sentence all the way through, or other stupid typos.
Got a bit of Big Brother Syndrome? Want to know what’s going on your blog? Well, then you need Audit Trail Plugin. This will log who is logging in when, as well as other things like what they’re doing and changing and even allows you to restore a post to a previous version.
In this way, you can at least undo some of the damage in case somebody is being malicious and might even be able to figure out who has hacked you and from where. Of course, if they know about this particular plugin you might not be so lucky, but hey, you can’t have everything!
Got a huge number of contributors and you’re no longer able to track all of it? Got a fan base that might find the certain content objectionable?
In the former two cases, you should install report post, as this will allow users to let you know when people are putting up content they really shouldn’t be.
In the latter case, good for you. I hear it’s very healthy as long as you are not lactose intolerant.
This is also a useful plugin in case you’re worried about people hacking your page and changing your content, as people are far more likely to report strange content if they’ve got a big button to do so. In that way, you won’t end up not advertising some product you really shouldn’t be for several months because you didn’t check if a page was still as it was supposed to be.
Okay, a gold star if you can figure out what this plugin does! It is very useful if you want to modify the dashboards of certain roles so that they don’t actually get to see the parts that they don’t need to see.
This can be particularly useful if you’re dealing with people who aren’t necessarily that computer literate, or if you’re dealing with people who don’t like it that they don’t have full access as with the hide dashboard plugin they won’t see what they can’t touch – and as they say what you don’t know can’t harm you.
Except, of course, a baseball bat to the back of the head. That can certainly harm you. Actually, that saying doesn’t make any sense. Who makes up these saying anyway? Sometimes it seems like somebody just threw a dictionary in a blender and took whatever came out as gospel truth.
Not just a clever name but a great plugin to boot, Adminimize lets you not just decide what roles people can play but also lets you decide what parts of the backend they can actually see in that you can activate or deactivate any part of the menu or sub-menu.
Yeah, in that way it’s similar to Hide Dashboard, but I just really liked the name. And at least now you’ve got a choice.
Yeah, I wish it would do what you think it does as well. Except with Larry. I really wouldn’t like to see Larry exposed. Susan says you can’t really tell where his head hair stops and his back hair begins. And that’s just disturbing.
Author Exposed does not do that, however. Instead, it offers you this neat little pop up that gives users a better insight into the author of a post. That’s pretty neat as well, I guess.
The plugin does the same thing as actually clicking on the author’s name, except that in this case, it puts it up on a little pop up on the screen the user is already on. That means the user experience will be that bit smoother and your page will seem that bit nicer. Or that’s the idea, anyway.
The List Author Widget allows you to have a list of the authors of your blog in the sidebar, with each of the names linking to an author’s PHP page. A great way if you want to put the authors first and center, as well – of course – as showing off how many people you’ve got working on the site.
Of course, it doesn’t work half as well if you’ve only got one or two authors as in that case it will just make you look like a pauper.
This one is great in case you want to leave behind a note for one of the authors, in that it allows – as the name suggests – for you to hunt Wookies with a bowcaster. Oh jeez, I kill me (or should that be ‘somebody please kill me’?).
So no, it doesn’t do that, instead Dashboard Notepad does exactly what the name implies, which might not be half as much fun, but can certainly save you a lot of hassle in case they’re not logged in and you really need them to know something before they post their next article.
If you’re making money through your blog and have multiple authors contributing to it, then you might want to actually share the income (or you might be forced to share the income – the outcome is the same). In that case, you want to use Author Advertising as that is exactly what it allows you to do.
It works with Yahoo, Google, Adsense, Amazon, Allposter and more, so yeah most of the advertising bases have indeed been covered.
With these tools, you’ll be in a much better position to make certain that your blog runs smoothly, that your authors work together well and smoothly, and that when inevitably the arguing and sniping does start, it stays behind the scenes instead of erupting onto the main pages of your website.
And something always has to be said for appearances! So, armed with these plugins, you should do well. Let us know if we missed out on any and good multi-blogging.
I’m off to get another cup (or six) of coffee and see what author has exposed them today.